The West Berkshire Council has just learned this lesson the hard way. According to a recent report of lost data “West Berkshire introduced encrypted memory sticks in 2006. But following an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), it was also discovered that council employees were still using unencrypted memory sticks.”
In a perfect world, simply stating that data should only be stored on approved USB devices, and that all data on portable storage media must be encrypted would be good enough. In the real world, though, simply stating it is not good enough. Stating a policy–without any means of monitoring or enforcing compliance with it–is simply paying lip service to data protection and gambling that a data breach incident will never occur.
West Berkshire Council lost that gamble when an unencrypted USB memory stick containing sensitive information relating to the ethnicity, and mental and physical health of children was lost. The report also contains this quote “It is essential that organisations ensure the correct safeguards are in place when storing and transferring personal information, especially when it concerns sensitive information relating to children.”
The best option to ensure correct safeguards are in place is Zlock. Zlock allows IT administrators to restrict users from writing to data to unapproved portable storage media. Access can be locked down to devices from a particular manufacturer, or of a particular type. A specific USB memory stick can be associated with each individual user, and all other memory sticks can be blocked.
In the case of West Berkshire Council, Zlock would have been instrumental in ensuring that users relied on the encrypted USB memory sticks they were issued four years ago, rather than storing data on the now lost unencrypted USB memory stick.